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Photo TR: Canobie Coaster's 2017 US Adventures


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^ Unfortunately the cycle before you always has a ton of screaming and you'll often have someone come off greener than the Hulk. Plus they also have the observation deck next to the queue. Best of luck getting her on, but it'll be hard if she hates spinning rides.

 

Obviously Disney is going to do a better job with a coaster, but for a smaller park Untamed's theming is unbelievable. The park's overall charm is where Canobie shines. I think one more great coaster will really put the place more on the map with enthusiasts and make it a must when they go to SFNE.

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She's okay with spinning rides for the most part, though she had a bit of a bad experience at Dorney last time out since they let us load up a car with all four of us and it was running a batsh*t insane cycle. I'm not sure if she's ever been on a Rotor or Gravitron... we'll have to see.

 

Agreed on one more coaster for the place. What sort do you think would complement their collection the best?

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Great report! Canobie is a really nice little park. I think Yankee Cannonball is a pretty average (though fun) coaster and is hilariously overrated but I really enjoyed my day at the park. It's a great place.

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Agreed on one more coaster for the place. What sort do you think would complement their collection the best?

 

I think the next coaster should probably be of the family variety. After the Dragon kiddie coaster, the next tamest coaster is Yankee Cannonball. I think they could use something to bridge the gap like maybe one of those Mack spinners.

 

My pipe dream is Kanonen since it's just below the height limit and would have a unique layout for a ride in the area.

 

Great report! Canobie is a really nice little park. I think Yankee Cannonball is a pretty average (though fun) coaster and is hilariously overrated but I really enjoyed my day at the park. It's a great place.

 

I'd say that's a very fair assessment of Yankee Cannonball. It's super reridable, but the airtime can vary wildly. I have gotten rides where I've come out of my seat on every hill, but that hasn't happened in 4-5 years at this point. Then again I have also had some slower rides where I can hardly get any air.

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I think the next coaster should probably be of the family variety. After the Dragon kiddie coaster, the next tamest coaster is Yankee Cannonball. I think they could use something to bridge the gap like maybe one of those Mack spinners.

 

My pipe dream is Kanonen since it's just below the height limit and would have a unique layout for a ride in the area.

 

Considering the water park rumor is what Quassy did, maybe they could take another page out of their book and do a small wooden coaster akin to Wooden Warrior? Or, for that matter, Roar-O-Saurus at the other end of the state. I'm sure enthusiasts would be happy, even if it wouldn't be too unique.

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With the location of the clearing and survey markers, a water park expansion makes too much sense for the park's long term success. A mini woody like Roar-o-saurus or Wooden Warrior would be great since they're relatively cheap and amazing rides. If they wanted unique, they could add a barrel roll like Mine Blower but that would remove the family aspect.

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Dollywood...Still no Lightning Rod

I had a week long family vacation in Pigeon Forge in early June, so I had plenty of time at Dollywood. I rode Tennessee Tornado, Wild Eagle, Drop Line, and everything to my hearts content except for one ride, Lightning Rod. That sexy looking but perpetually closed RMC sat there taunting me. 3 days after I left Pigeon Forge, the Lightning Rod decided to reopen.

 

For the next few weeks, Lightning Rod ran fairly consistently. Maybe Dollywood really did cure all the downtime by taking the ride down for the 3 weeks leading up to and during my visit (spoiler alert, it didn't since the ride is closed as I type this). Yes it sucked, but if they finally solved all of the enigmatic ride's issues, it was worth it in the long run. Well I had been planning to visit a friend in Atlanta in late July and we were looking for something to do during the weekend visit. Since I knew he was a theme park fan (not a die-hard like me, but he did intern at Disney), I suggested Dollywood and the Smoky Mountains which he was on board with.

 

The weekend before my trip, Lightning Rod heard I was coming and decided to shut down. This was not happening again. Well it then reopened that Monday and Tuesday. Phew disaster averted.

 

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Then Lightning Rod did the ultimate sausage tease on Wednesday-Friday by starting the day as TC only to never open and switch to CD by mid-afternoon. With that, I wasn't overly optimistic Lightning Rod would be open and sure enough it was listed as CD bright and early on Saturday morning. So much for the downtime during my last visit ensuring that the ride would run reliably for the rest of the summer.

 

And just like last time, Lightning Rod opened 3 days after I left. I guess I'm everyone's good luck charm if they visit the park immediately after me. Same thing happened on my visit to Dollywood last year as well. I'm glad Robb, Elissa, and the rest of the group got on Lightning Rod after we missed it last year since it really sucks seeing that ride closed. If you want to ensure a ride on Lightning Rod, just cover my airfare and I'm happy to visit the park before you get there and based on the trend, Lightning Rod should be running a few days later.

 

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No not again...sigh, the orange sign of doom.

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Dollywood turning RMC into the villain here.

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Such a tease.

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Someday I'll experience the ride's insanity. Someday.

I stopped in the chapel and prayed to the coaster gods Lightning Rod would open. I also contemplated buying one of the godly shirts, but knew resistance was futile. Actually I considered buying the Star Wars shirt so I could wear that to the Episode 8 midnight premiere to see just what kind of looks I'd get .

 

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What kind of penance do you need me to do to get Lightning Rod to reopen?

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This may have been my favorite religious shirt. It was so clever, I didn't catch it the first time.

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I wonder if Star Wars fans would burn me at the cross if I wore this to a premiere.

Since I already wrote a detailed report on my experience earlier this year, I won't go into too much depth on my thoughts on the coasters (Click Here if you want In-Depth). Wild Eagle and Tennessee Tornado are my two personal favorites. One benefit of this visit was the park was open until 10. In early June, the park closed at 7 most nights. That meant night rides. I go back and forth whether or not Tennessee Tornado or Wild Eagle is better, but I have to give it to the bird after some amazing night rides. The ride's setting on the hill at night is fantastic.

 

I also wanted to capture some of the thoughts of my friend's experiences on the coasters:

 

Wild Eagle- My friend is 6'3" so usually he's stuffed into a coaster car like a wiener in a pretzel dog. He loved the freedom of the wing seating and the ride's elements. This was his personal favorite in the park.

 

Mystery Mine- I purposely toured the park counterclockwise so when we reached Mystery Mine, the ride's finale would be hidden from view. He thought the first half was relatively tame so he was absolutely shocked by the final plunge and two inversions. He also was impressed by the ride's theming.

 

Tennessee Tornado- He hated the back rows of the cars due to the lack of leg room, but he loved the first drop through the mountain and the rest of the ride when we rode in the front of the cars. Only negative was how short the ride was.

 

Firechaser Express- He thought it was an interesting little coaster, but he preferred the three listed above.

 

Thunderhead- "Once was enough." (And I even rode in the front too)

 

Blazing Fury- He thought it was just going to be a dark ride and was taken by surprise on the drop and great pop of airtime.

 

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Love Wild Eagle's placement.

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Dollywood's fastest operating coaster.

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Hiding the second half from my friend, priceless.

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I would have loved to have experienced Thunderhead in the first few years while it was still smooth. But as is it's still a fun coaster.

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Still one of the best family coasters. The dude in the 2nd row seems to be having the time of his life.

We also took quite a few rides on Drop Line. We timed it just right to see the sunset over the Smokies. Actually we were two rides too early, so we just re-rode it until we saw the sunset. This drop tower is up there with Marineland's (only time I'll mention that awful park in this report) for the best view on a drop tower. Plus the ride had some water effects going at the base of the tower which were missing in my June visits.

 

One funny thing is that there seemed to be a Drop Line enthusiast who kept riding again and again through the Timesaver queue. Once we were all in the waiting pen for our ride, he blew a whistle and then started giving a safety spiel and tips for where to sit. I thought he was an employee at first, but no he seemed to just be a dude in love with the ride. Best thing is that I don't even think that was his own whistle. After he used it each time, he placed it back on the corner of the operator booth.

 

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Usually I'm a fire kind of guy, but not when it's 100 degrees out.

Since the heat index was over 100 degrees, the longest lines by far were for the water rides. Smoky Mountain River Rampage was 70 minutes by mid-afternoon and Daredevil Falls even reached 45 minutes at one point. River Battle appeared to have a full queue, but that's a relatively small queue house. And we weren't in the mood to hike up the hill to Mountainside Slidewinder. The park truly has one of the best water ride collections, which is critical since Tennessee is in that sweet spot that manages to have both high heat and crazy humidity.

 

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That looks drenching.

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This too, but it actually isn't drenching (unless you're in the front row and forget to lift up your feet).

With the long lines on the water rides, the air-conditioned shows and Chasing Rainbow Museums were two other meccas during our visit. Dolly's personal museum is really extensive and if you love Dolly, you'll gobble this museum right up. Since I'm not a redneck, I'm not a fan of country so my favorite part in the museum is the timeline of Dollywood's history towards the end.

 

Then we saw the Gazillion Bubbles Show. The name sounds incredibly childish and sounds like something that should be hosted by Barney the Dinosaur, but it's actually an amazing show. The performer, Fan Yang, is a bubble artist (yes that's actually a thing and we're all in the wrong profession) who holds world records for the longest bubble (~150ft long ) and the most people encapsulated by a single bubble with 100 (let that sink in). So the dude is pretty talented and blew, you guessed it, a gazillion bubbles during the show. Then it ended with laser bubble FX. Don't mock the name. You'll be stunned if you ever see it since he looked like a Jedi on stage. The show completely exceeded all my expectations and I highly recommend it if it's running at Dollywood when you're there.

 

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AC the Ride.

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I see Dolly!

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The name sounds like something a 5 year old would come up with, but this was a seriously awesome show.

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Looked like a cool show, but it didn't have AC so I walked right by.

Like any good friend, I also got him hooked on cinnamon bread. I have never had cinnamon bread (I know, but bear with me ) since I dislike all sweets. However, like 99% of all other humans, my friend loves all things sugary and sweet so he thought it was delicious. Meanwhile I ate an entire turkey leg like a barbarian. I had only gotten a turkey leg one other time at Disneyland and all I have to say is wow. Disneyland's turkey leg tasted like dried-out pork and not at all like turkey. Dollywood's turkey leg actually tasted like turkey and was actually juicy. I'd definitely get one of those again. It gives me a great excuse to act like a savage.

 

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That's the most southern name you can have. So is she my grandmother or some weird Southern incestual thing?

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The Grist Mill, aka Lightning Rod closure therapy.

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Omg this actually tastes like turkey.

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Like a savage!

The late closure not only meant night rides on the coasters, but it also meant there was the nightly fireworks show. I think the music remains unchanged from the year before (hearing some of those pop songs with the fireworks is pretty unmistakable) but that's ok since the quality of the show is about as good as a theme park's fireworks can be outside of Disney.

 

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*as Katy Perry plays in the background*

I had a lot of fun at Dollywood, especially since I was there with a first-timer. But it's getting pretty agitating seeing Lightning Rod closed on all my visits only to have it reopen a few days later and then hear all the rave reviews. Yes the rest of the park is still amazing, but it may be a while before I return since I want to ensure that coaster is actually going to be running. It lured me in after operating well at the start of the year and the month after my last visit, but next time I'm going to want to see it run for a longer period of time to avoid getting burned.

 

So hopefully Lightning Rod can be back up and running reliably since it truly looks like one of the world's best coasters and the park is one of my favorites. It's still a really strong park without Lightning Rod, but it's painful seeing that coaster closed visit after visit.

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Goats on the Roof...in Georgia

 

Goats on the Roof is synonymous with one of the best alpine coasters and the living embodiment of a Pigeon Forge tourist trap. It wouldn't be a visit to Dollywood without stopping there. After a 2.5 hour drive from Dollywood we made it to Goats on the Roof. I know what you're thinking, "I thought Goats on the Roof was in Pigeon Forge?" Well it is. But there's also one in the absolute middle-of-nowhere Georgia in a town called Tiger.

 

As a full disclaimer, we didn't even intend to go to Goats on the Roof. After a full-day at Dollywood, the plan was to drive back to Atlanta via the Smoky Mountains National Park and then hit up Fun Spot Atlanta if time permitted. We hit the road early only to stop in Gatlinburg. He wanted to check out a moonshine distillery, which unfortunately couldn't sell any on Sunday until the afternoon but he thought it was still cool to see how the most southern drink ever was made, and I wanted to support the best-named pizza place ever, the Mellow Mushroom.

 

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Stone baked goodness.

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I figured this would be a bad candle to put in a car in case an officer pulled us over.

"Sir what's that smell?"

"A candle."

"Please step out of the vehicle."

"No seriously it's a candle!"

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Got my nature credit (again) as well.

After leaving the Smoky Mountains, I visited the dark shadowy place on the other side of the Smokies known as Cherokee, NC. Maybe Cherokee is actually nice, but the portion of town we passed through looked like a desolate and desperate tourist trap. We passed a million Indian stores, an abandoned family entertainment center, and gem miles galore. And there was also a river with plenty of people "swimming," though I use that term loosely since the water was only waist deep. Can't say I ever want to stay on that side of the Smokies based on what I saw.

 

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Guess this fun park wasn't fun enough for people.

We continued down the road passing gem mine after gem mine. If we were counting, we honestly may have passed 20. We didn't want to stop to support the local economy until I saw a sign for Goats on the Roof. This was an immediate slam on the brakes and turn into the parking lot kind of place. I didn't know there was a second Goats on the Roof so this was an amazing surprise goat credit.

 

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I thought this was a mirage, but no there's a second location.

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This looks familiar.

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This is everything that is right with a tourist trap.

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Sadly no coaster. I always look at this photo and think that bridge is part of an alpine coaster.

For those unfamiliar with Goats on the Roof, the name pretty much says it all and it's everything that's right in a tourist trap. Though if you want to learn about the Legend of Goats on the Roof, they are happy to inform you via a sign. Too bad most people down South can't read it though.

 

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Several of those words are beyond a 5th grade reading level.

There's no coaster, but much of the place is reminiscent of the Pigeon Forge attraction. It was a hot day, so most of the goats were taking shelter, unless you delivered them food. You could either ride the dilapidated bike of doom and pray you don't take a shaft to the anus or you could hand feed a goat an ice cream cone and watch him deep throat it. I preferred to watch the kids do both these things for me.

 

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It was hot so the goats took cover unless food was on the way.

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Those goats know the sound of the conveyor belt.

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"Is that food I see?"

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"I love deep throating ice cream cones!"

They also had the most sorry excuse of an arcade ever. I tried to take a photo of the entire arcade and it was a major struggle. Not because it was too large. Rather it was so small I didn't have enough space to get a photo. Eventually I got one and as you can see, the only two games were air hockey and a mini basketball hoop. I'm guessing people aren't coming for the games.

 

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As we were about to hit the road, we saw one of the most southern things ever, a pet pig. I kid you not, a family walked out of their vehicle and out plopped a freaking pig. They had a leash and everything for it. And with that, we thought it was the perfect time to head back to Atlanta before gaps formed between our teeth and we pulled banjos out of our pockets.

 

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Fido the family pig.

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I lost it when I saw the leash and everything.

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Nice report! I can't wait to visit Dollywood one day. It seems like such an excellent park, even without Lightning Rod. That's a bummer you couldn't ride it. I hope that ride starts seeing better days sooner rather than later.

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One funny thing is that there seemed to be a Drop Line enthusiast who kept riding again and again through the Timesaver queue. Once we were all in the waiting pen for our ride, he blew a whistle and then started giving a safety spiel and tips for where to sit. I thought he was an employee at first, but no he seemed to just be a dude in love with the ride. Best thing is that I don't even think that was his own whistle. After he used it each time, he placed it back on the corner of the operator booth.

 

Haha, wtf? That's just bizarre.

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I saw some weird stuff down south. From Drop Line Dude to the pet pig, it was one weird thing after another.

 

And it even continued on my flight. I was across from a crazy woman who stood up who spent 2 hours on my overnight flight screaming and professing her love for Jesus. Nothing like having your Rogue One movie disturbed by a woman screaming, "We're all going to die and see Jesus Christ!"

 

Nice report! I can't wait to visit Dollywood one day. It seems like such an excellent park, even without Lightning Rod. That's a bummer you couldn't ride it. I hope that ride starts seeing better days sooner rather than later.

 

I love the park without it. If they get Lightning Rod running with near constant uptime next year, I think a return visit will definitely be in order for Smoky Mountain Christmas or 2019.

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I agree that there are some rather interesting people in that area, but I'll go to Dollywood and Gatlinburg any chance that I get.

 

Yeah, I would have been freaked out by the ranting Southern Baptist.

 

Loving your reports...keep 'em coming!

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I saw some weird stuff down south. From Drop Line Dude to the pet pig, it was one weird thing after another.

 

And it even continued on my flight. I was across from a crazy woman who stood up who spent 2 hours on my overnight flight screaming and professing her love for Jesus. Nothing like having your Rogue One movie disturbed by a woman screaming, "We're all going to die and see Jesus Christ!"

 

Nice report! I can't wait to visit Dollywood one day. It seems like such an excellent park, even without Lightning Rod. That's a bummer you couldn't ride it. I hope that ride starts seeing better days sooner rather than later.

 

I love the park without it. If they get Lightning Rod running with near constant uptime next year, I think a return visit will definitely be in order for Smoky Mountain Christmas or 2019.

 

Or whenever Lightning Rod is no longer new hotness (i.e. when Dollywood puts in another coaster, which I think will likely be a B&M)

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^ That is true. A new B&M, Mack, etc would convince me to return as well, but I do think I'd want to have Lightning Rod running. Based off the other RMCs I've been on and everyone else's reviews, I know that coaster would rate highly for me.

 

I agree that there are some rather interesting people in that area, but I'll go to Dollywood and Gatlinburg any chance that I get.

 

Yeah, I would have been freaked out by the ranting Southern Baptist.

 

Loving your reports...keep 'em coming!

 

Other than the plane lady, I've found all the interesting people part of the experience.

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ZDT's Amusement Park

 

I was lucky enough to have a free weekend down in Texas a few weeks back. With only two days down there, I knew the two Six Flags parks were an absolute must with SeaWorld San Antonio being another park I wanted to add. Without a third day, Schlitterbahn or the Houston-area parks were not feasible for me. I was able to cram in a certain FEC with a Gravity Group woody though in ZDT's Amusement Park (though I think ZDT's Super FEC is more appropriate).

 

I landed in Dallas at 8 am and after picking up my car from Texas, I flew down the highway to Seguin, Texas. I say flew since the speed limits kept getting higher and higher. First 70, then 75, then 80, and just when I thought they couldn't get any higher, 85! Soon enough I was in a town that many enthusiasts had never even heard of until ZDT's shocked the amusement world and built the world's first shuttle wooden coaster with an almost vertical drop. Those claims seem like something that would have Six Flags foaming at the mouth, but instead is the crown jewel of ZDT's.

 

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Silos and Switchback, that pretty much sums up ZDT's.

Unlike other FECs, ZDT's only offers an all-day wristband. That wristband includes unlimited rides on Switchback, the three water slides (including a master blaster, though don't get too excited yet), climbing walls, go karts, a frisbee, and arcade games. For $25, it's certainly a really nice deal and if I wasn't also trying to cram SeaWorld and Fiesta Texas into one day, I would have definitely loved to stay longer to take advantage of all the park had to offer. With a tight schedule, I wasted no time and went to Switchback.

 

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How to heard a coaster enthusiast 101.

If you've read any of my other reports, you know I absolutely love the two mini Gravity Group woodies in New England in Wooden Warrior and Roar-o-saurus. Despite not being over 40 feet tall, both those rides are jam-packed with airtime while still providing smooth, comfortable rides thanks to the Timberliners. Switchback was almost double their height and had the messed up looking spike. That element looks so messed up on a wooden roller coaster, yet amazing at the same time.

 

I wasn't expecting to hit any crowds at ZDT's and my assumption was correct. At most I had to wait 1 cycle to get the front or back rows. The lift hill is quick and gives you an unobstructed view of the nothingness in and around Seguin. Before you get lost in the view (since everything looks the same), you crest the lift and navigate an impossibly tight turn that feels more like a turn on a wild mouse than a wooden coaster. Gravity Group gets more and more daring on the compactness of their elements with each coaster and without that, I don't think Switchback could have fit at ZDT's. That turn then ends with a ridiculously steep drop that absolutely catapults back seat riders from their seats. It's among the best drops I've experienced on a wooden coaster.

 

I don't think I can accurately give a play-by-play of the next part of the coaster from memory. The coaster then flies through two buildings (or the same building? I couldn't tell it happened so fast) and glides over 3-4 hills that give good floater air. There's also a 90 degree turn for good measure. I had no clue which direction I was going at any point, but was just willing to let the ride take me. This culminated in the spike. If you're in the back, you barely travel up the spike. If you're in the front, you travel a good deal up it and get some great floater air. Wherever you sit though, the image of staring at a near vertical spike on a wooden coaster seems too bizarre to be true.

 

The return trip has less speed that the outward trip, but there's still a few weaker pops of air and the changes of direction are even more disorienting. I couldn't tell you what the layout was going forwards, so I sure as heck had no clue what was happening in reverse. Eventually the ride returns to the straightaway after the first drop, hits the brakes, and returns to the station. Because ZDT's is awesome, they actually have two trains. It definitely wasn't needed on the day of my visit, but it makes major parks look bad that they only have one train when this little FEC can afford two trains on a coaster this small.

 

So how was Switchback and was it worth driving a bit out of the way? I'd say it was definitely worth the side-trip. The airtime wasn't as abrupt as it was on Roar-o-saurus, but it was more sustained and the layout was far superior. Switchback didn't quite make my top 10 woodies, but it slots in between the Beast and Great Escape's Comet which is really good company. The ride has a smooth yet aggressive layout that is truly unlike any wooden coaster I've been on. I couldn't decide whether or not I liked the back or front better since the back had a better first drop while the front gets the spike in full. Guess you just need to try both. 8.5 out of 10

 

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Switchback's first drop is insane. Unbelievably steep for a coaster of this size.

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Plenty of floater air to be had on this coaster.

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Going up.

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Doesn't this look so wrong yet awesome at the same time?

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As you can see, the back doesn't go too far up the spike. The front is the money seat for that.

What else does ZDT's have? They have go karts because what would a FEC be without go karts. They also have a mini frisbee ride called the Dizzy Toucan. From a distance, I thought it was one of those crazy inverting ones like the one at Quassy, but this one just rocked back and forth which was slightly disappointing. There was also a cute little drop tower themed to the parachute towers of yesteryear.

 

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Obligatory set of FEC go karts. Though this one had a huge indoor multilevel track.

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Sadly not an inverting frisbee. Just a Dizzy Toucan.

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Dwarfed by the silos, which I'll get to later.

The park also has a water park. Almost always, I will skip the water park since I don't find it worth the hassle to rent a locker and change into a bathing suit. I also have a hard time justifying standing in a slow-moving line, receiving a sunburn for a ride that I like worse than the options on the ride side. The major exception is if the water park has a master blaster/water coaster. Much to my utter shock ZDT's had one. It was an absolutely tiny one, but a water coaster nonetheless.

 

I had a dilemma. I did have a bathing suit that I brought for Thunder Rapids in case by some miracle Fiesta Texas was empty, but really didn't want to have to change into it. Surely I could find a cop out. Long line? Nope it was a walk-on. However, the ride didn't go into a pool and it was 100 degrees, so what's the worst that could happen (famous last words) riding in my dry clothes. So I hopped on Mad Raft.

 

I didn't get to see the ride run before I boarded but prayed it would be one of the hydromagnetic versions. I took of my shirt, sat down in the very wet raft (should have been a warning), and was sent down the tiny first drop. I rounded the corner and saw the water jets of doom. At least it was 105 degrees out. The tiny little hill unmercifully drenched me. The subsequent hill did have a really nice pop of air. There was at least one (and maybe two) other tiny uphill sections, but neither of these sections had any air. The second half of the ride was a relatively slow downhill section but there were some tight turns. As far as water slides go, Mad Raft was about average, but for a master blaster it was disappointing due to the lack of major drops of speed.

 

I got good enough of a soaking from Mad Raft, which I will admit was refreshing, so I skipped the other two water slides.

 

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ZDT's "water park".

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I still can't believe this place has a master blaster, even if it is tiny.

Last but not least is what arguably may be the park's most unique attraction, the Silo Climb. Many parks have the standard 25ish foot tall rock wall. ZDT's laughs at those puny little walls and instead built, what they boast as, the world's tallest auto-belay climbing wall. I have to admit, it definitely looks and feels tall. When you get near the top and realize you're on par with a full-size roller coaster, it definitely gives you a moment of pause and shock even if you are perfectly safe and strapped in.

 

I made a fatal mistake before climbing this wall. When I rode Mad Raft, I kept my shoes on. Despite not having a pool, my sneakers got quite wet. This absolutely killed me on the Silo Climb. I made it about 3/4 of the way up, but the final section has less grip than the initial climb. I went to reach for the next hand-hold, but I heard a squeak and plummeted 50 feet towards the ground. My soaked sneakers were letting me down. I tried again, but slipped at the exact same spot. As someone who rock climbs quite a bit, I was definitely peeved that I couldn't complete this wall. It definitely gives me an incentive to return along with that amazing wooden coaster across the park.

 

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The Silo Climb was an awesome belay wall. Just don't ride the water coaster first if you want to complete it...

Overall ZDT's is the perfect place to spend a few hours. If you are in the San Antonio area (and I'm guessing that Raptor coaster will have many of you there next year), definitely take the hour trip to check out ZDT's. You will definitely be impressed by Switchback and the FEC does have a few other things worth checking out if you have time such as the water coaster, Silo Climb, and included arcade.

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SeaWorld San Antonio

After ZDT's my next stop was SeaWorld San Antonio. And the two parks could not have been more of a contrast to each other. One was a tiny little FEC that used every square inch available while the other was a corporate park with a huge, sprawling layout. Having been to the San Diego one a few years back, I had a rough idea what to expect- a park primarily full of shows with rides sprinkled throughout. For the most part, that assessment was true.

 

Since I only had a single weekend in Texas, I had a pretty jam-packed itinerary. I knew I wasn't going to leave that state without making it to both of the Six Flags parks. Because my travels brought be close to ZDT's and SeaWorld, I was able to squeeze them in as well. ZDT's is a park meant for a quick credit run. SeaWorld? Not so much. SeaWorld is definitely meant to be a full-day park so you can take in all the shows and enjoy the rides at a more relaxed pace. By the time I entered SeaWorld's gates, it was already 2:30 pm, so a speed run ignoring the shows was necessary to make it to Fiesta Texas at a reasonable hour.

 

Being Texas, it was hot as balls. While I think my car slightly over-exaggerated the temperature, this gives you an idea just how hot we were talking. I'm just glad it was a dry heat or else I would have been tempted to hop a fence to swim with Shamu.

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I think it was actually *only* 106 degrees out, but still.

 

I had to park pretty dang far away from the gate. The walk to the gate was probably 10 minutes. Meanwhile at ZDT's, in 10 minutes I was probably boarding Switchback for the second time. Just to ensure I got in and out of the park quickly, I purchased the QuickQueue for a reasonable $25-30. I know the lines at SeaWorld typically aren't too bad for the coasters, but any time I could save would be worth it since it would give me an extra ride on an awesome looking RMC later in the day that ended up becoming my new favorite coaster. So I'd say it was money well spent.

 

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I went through the entrance only to find...

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Another entrance!

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Aquatica was a separate gate and with the temperatures, I wouldn't be shocked if it was busier than the main park.

Having worked up a sweat walking into the park (Holiday in the Park 30 degree temperatures are more my thing), I was ready to cool off. So my first stop was Journey to Atlantis. The time estimate wasn't up at the main entrance, but the entire queue building was filled so it looked to be a pretty substantial wait...but not with my handy dandy QuickQueue. I felt kind of bad bypassing that entire queue, but that quickly went away when I was strapped into the next boat.

 

While San Diego's version was light on theming compared to the original in Orlando, the Texas version made San Diego's look like Splash Mountain by comparison. All Texas had for theming was a nice looking queue line and a single tunnel after the main drop. The ride did look nice though, but I guess I expected more from a SeaWorld park.

 

The turntables were really slow, but a neat little feature. The backwards drop was tiny, but any backwards drop gives me a good free-falling sensation I rarely get on forward facing drops. The final plunge is taken forwards and was a really good drop; it was much larger than usual for a ride of this type. The subsequent splash got me quite wet, but not to the unbearable level of most shoot the chutes which was much appreciated even on a hotter day. It's basically a glorified shoot the chutes, but it's a massive one and that makes it a pretty fun ride. 7 out of 10

 

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I started with the glorified shoot the chutes that's barely a coaster.

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This little tunnel is the entirety of the ride's theming. Six Flags doesn't look so bad now, huh?

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This looked absolutely drenching off-ride, but it actually didn't soak me to the bone.

As I continued counterclockwise around the park, I was reminded that 95% of guests visit SeaWorld for the shows. The midways were packed to the gills as a few shows had appeared to have gotten out. I'm sure the shows were pretty good based on my experience at the San Diego park, but there was coasters to be ridden so I navigated my way through. Because of how narrow the walkways were relative to the number of people, I had flashbacks to all my visits at Disneyland trying to get through seas of people in Tomorrowland to use a Space Mountain fastpass.

 

Actually I have to correct myself. There were coasters and a water ride to be ridden. Since I had QuickQueue, I decided to hop on the park's river rapids ride, Rio Loco, on my way by. Like Journey to Atlantis, this one also appeared to have a pretty substantial wait. Without QuickQueue, there is absolutely no way I would have even considered riding Rio Loco.

 

Rio Loco didn't really have any theming, which was disappointing haven ridden the rapids ride in the San Diego park. However, the ride did have a very nice setting through the woods. The ride experience was also a bit different from the other river rapids I've been on. Usually any rapid sends a wave of water cascading into the boat, soaking guests. But on this one, 90% of the rapids didn't send water in the boat. Instead, the rapids just caused the raft wildly oscillate through the water, which made it a surprise when one of them sent a small wave towards the boat. Towards the end, there was an absolutely drenching waterfall that I somehow avoided, but other than that, you can escape this ride with nothing more than a few splashes.

 

While unthemed, it was still a decent river rapids ride thanks to the wilder river, the nice setting, and the Russian Roulette waterfall at the end of the ride. If you have QuickQueue or a full day, Rio Loco is worth checking out. I'd say it's in the middle of the road for river rapids rides. 6 out of 10

 

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No theming on the Rio Loco.

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Just a crazy river. Ah maybe that's the theming.

Enough of the water, it was time to ride the Batman that isn't actually Batman in Great White. I used the QuickQueue entrance, but it really wasn't necessary as it was just a one train wait. I boarded in the back. The first drop and three inversions were the standard forceful affair of any Batman clone, but the second half felt different. There was a bit of a rattle and the forces weren't nearly as pronounced as I didn't feel the blood rush to my legs. Not sure if I just got a sluggish ride or if there was a subtle difference accounting for it. The corkscrews are still plenty fun, but it was definitely a bit tamer than the one I rode a few hours later or the next day at SFOT. Still a very solid invert. 8 out of 10

 

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Wow this must be a massive invert if it's taller and faster than the park's 15 story, pseudo-hyper coaster.

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Oh wait it's just a Batman. Well it's not Batman, but it is a Batman. You know what I mean.

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I don't mind that this layout has been cloned so frequently. It's fantastic.

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The first half was the same old forceful goodness, but the second half was a bit sluggish. I didn't feel the blood rush to my feet like I do on the other Batman clones.

Up next was the park's new hotness, Wave Breaker. This was another ride I was very thankful to have QuickQueue for since it was posting a 45 minute wait. Once I reached the station, I made my way towards the back of the queue. Well as far as I was allowed to go. Someone had unloaded their lunch by the air gates for the back row, which is impressive since it had to have been before they boarded the coaster unless they exited on the wrong side (wait that's entirely possible from what I've seen so scratch that). Thankfully I was allowed to swipe the back by entering through another row.

 

The first thing I noticed was how weird the vehicles and restraints were. I expecting moto-coaster seating similar to one of the Zamperla versions. The ride vehicles are themed to freaking jet skis after all. Instead it's a sit-down train with restrictive rectangles for your feet and an odd "lap bar" that's really more of a knee bar. With how far ahead of you the handholds are, I believe you are supposed to lean forwards like on the motocoasters or a real jet ski. That much freedom in a vehicle was definitely different.

 

The ride began with a launch. The pre-launch sequence feels more like something out of an educational exhibit rather than a coaster. The ride's story is simple enough; there's an animal at sea, so go rescue him. Soon enough, the doors open and you are off. The launches start slow (they're tire driven) but by the end they have a pretty good kick to them despite this being a family coaster. The first swooping hill is pretty large and has some solid forces at the bottom. The next few turns have nice placement over the water, but are graceful and forceless. I know it's a family coaster, but I was hoping those turns would have the standard Intamin magic in them.

 

The second launch is better than the first since you already have a decent head of steam entering it. The second half feels identical to the first. There's another huge sweeping hill with some solid Gs at the bottom and then there are a series of graceful turns above the water until you hit the brake run. Unfortunately there's no airtime (though I'm not sure if that'd be a good idea anyway with those restraints) but the ride is definitely a solid family coaster with a great location. 7 out of 10

 

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New for 2017!

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Launch 1 has you escape what feels like an educational exhibit in the pre-launch.

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The ride's only two major hills come after each of the two launches.

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The larger sweeping hills after the launches have some pretty good Gs, but the rest of the ride is relatively tame. Still fun though.

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Judging by the lines and their happy faces, Wave Breaker looks like a major win for the park.

It was at this point that I was worried I wouldn't be able to get on the park's marquee mechanical attraction (since we know Shamu is their true marque attraction), Steel Eel. After I rode Journey to Atlantis, I saw a train stuck on the lift hill and hadn't seen the coaster run since. I was hoping the ride just had incredibly slow dispatches (something no one should ever wish for, but I was trying to be optimistic), but nope the ride had been down for the past hour and a half.

 

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This was an easy shot to take since the train was stuck there.

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Steel Eel had some pretty bizarre looking supports.

I was momentarily debating if I should leave the park and try coming back later that evening after Fiesta Texas, but then I heard the unmistakable clickity-clack of the lift hill. I looked up and saw an empty train crawling up the lift like any train does on an old Morgan or Arrow coaster. Thank you SeaWorld maintenance crew. I just had to wait a few test cycles and then I'd be on the hyper coaster that technically isn't a hyper.

 

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Yes it's testing! Reopened just in time as I was passing it.

My first ride was in the back seat. I hadn't heard too much about Steel Eel over the years other than a general complaint that the seats were hard and a bit uncomfortable. I never had a problem on Steel Force and the oversized trains looked nearly identical, so I was hopeful I wouldn't have an issue. Having ridden Steel Force quite a bit over the years, I wasn't sure what to expect with Steel Eel. Some of my rides on Steel Force have been far tamer than what you'd expect a coaster taller than 200 feet tall to be while others did have some really solid airtime thanks to the oddly shaped hills that continue increasing in steepness the entire way down.

 

Steel Eel was wilder than any ride I've ever gotten on Steel Force! The first drop had amazing floater air and I actually lost my stomach. The same happened on the next two hills, which were equally as fantastic. The MCBR only slowed the train slightly as it then dove into the second half. The far turn was pretty forgettable but the 4-5 return hills were anything but. The airtime wasn't quite as intense as the first half, but the hills still gave some wonderful floater air. Despite having a shorter layout in track length than other hypers, it didn't feel any shorter.

 

I tried the coaster in the front afterwards and definitely preferred the back. The pops of air were more abrupt in the front, but the air was sustained far longer in the back seat, particularly on the first half. So the one area I didn't address yet was comfort. The track was glass smooth, but were the trains comfortable? I personally didn't have a problem but can see how others may find the harder seats uncomfortable. I think the reason this may not be an issue on the other Morgan hypers like Steel Force because the airtime isn't as intense as it is on Steel Eel. Overall I loved Steel Eel and I think it rates similarly to the better B&M hypers. 9.5 out of 10

 

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The airtime on the first drop was so good it ejected everyone from the train ;) Just kidding, it was a test train. Though the air was amazing!

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Steel Eel may be below the 200 foot mark, but it feels no different than a hyper.

Last but not least (I'm a credit whore after all) was Shamu's Express. Despite the 2-3 train wait, the park didn't have the QuickQueue open so this ended up being the coaster with the third longest wait in the park. Though I would have felt mighty embarrassed cutting a bunch of kids here with QuickQueue anyway . I was lucky enough to get the back seat. I got 2 laps on Shamu. I was fine with that though the kids ahead of me looked like they could go a few more laps. The ride was smooth, but that made it beyond uneventful after riding the other 4 coasters. 1 out of 10

 

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I made sure I had time to ride Shamu.

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Oh *expletive*! There's evidence I rode it.

I can now cross two SeaWorld parks off the list. Sadly the one I'm missing is the one that's widely considered the best, Orlando's. With all the additions Disney and Universal have slated in the next few years, I'll definitely be back in the Orlando area and hope to finally hit that park. I believe San Antonio was superior to San Diego, though I had two wildly different types of days. I had a full relaxed day at San Diego so I was able to soak in all of the shows while my visit to San Antonio consisted entirely of the coasters. San Antonio wins in that area, but I can't comment on how their shows compare since I skipped those to ensure I had enough time at Fiesta Texas. And I'm glad I gave myself time at Fiesta Texas since (spoiler alert) it was the best Six Flags park I have visited.

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Six Flags Fiesta Texas

 

When you think of Six Flags, what do you think of? I think of crazy roller coasters, piss poor operations (though the chain admittedly has improved across the board here in 2017), advertising that's forced down my throat like a pill, and a rowdy clientele. What if I told you there was a Six Flags with a picturesque setting, efficient operations, beautiful midways, and a family-friendly crowd all while keeping the same thrill rides you have come to expect from Six Flags. Such a please sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? But it does exist and it's called Six Flags Fiesta Texas.

 

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I had a Six Flags day that wasn't your prototypical Six Flags day.

The first thing I noticed driving up to the park was just how beautiful the park's setting is next to the rock quarry. Pictures don't do the park justice. You are surrounded by a golden brown rock quarry in every direction. Few parks have a better setting and even those that do, don't have a setting as unique as Fiesta Texas's setting. Despite nature's beauty, my eyes were drawn to the blood red RMC track standing above the quarry.

 

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Just look at that rock quarry. Fiesta Texas has an absolutely breathtaking setting.

The other thing I noticed was the park's new for 2017 attraction, Thunder Rapids. Six Flags has perfected the art of the parking lot roller coaster. Fiesta Texas bucks this trend. Instead they have a parking lot water slide. Thunder Rapids is plopped smack dab in the middle of the parking lot, so congrats to Six Flags for furthering their skills. I didn't enter into the water park, so my praise for the park's appearance is entirely based off of the ride park. Thunder Rapids looked like a really cool slide and I would have loved to try it if I had more time, but I figured it would have a massive line with the triple digit temperatures. My hypothesis was confirmed when there was a sign saying the water park was at capacity and couldn't accept more guests.

 

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Parking lot coasters are so yesterday. Parking lot water slides are next-gen.

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I remember thinking the saucer turns looked pointless when they were announced. Seeing them in person, the rafts really flew through them. Thunder Rapids looks like a major win for the park.

With only 4.5 hours at the park thanks to my GPS crapping itself on the Texas highway (are most of the highways or on-ramps in Texas relatively new?) and taking me a very roundabout way, I knew a Flash Pass was a necessity in order to get multiple Iron Rattler rerides and hit all the coasters. I remember when I used to think these devices were the dark side. Now I embrace it. There's really no other way to tour a park you don't often visit.

 

I immediately reserved Iron Rattler and saw I would have to wait a half hour. What better way to kill that time than to ride the Boomerang? It was about a 20 minute wait in the weirdest queue house I've ever seen. Most parks either shade the queue line or don't give a rat's booty to do so. Fiesta Texas somehow met halfway. They erected a queue house, but instead of closing the roof like every other park, Fiesta Texas kept gaps between wood beams. So instead of being protected from the hot Texas sun, slivers of sunlight still got through all while still obstructing your view.

 

As for the coaster itself, it was a Boomerang. Honestly, this one was one of the smoother ones. No major headbanging and gave the usual intense ride. Ok I'm praised the boomerang enough. 6 out of 10

 

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Intentional photo filter, budget cuts, too lazy to close the roof? The world will never know.

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It was a smoother than average boomerang, but still the most noteworthy thing is that odd queue house.

After missing out on Lightning Rod the weekend before, I went into Iron Rattler expecting it to be like make-up sex. Fun but not as good as the primary option. I intentionally hadn't watched a POV of the ride in quite some time, but I remember the layout seeming to be on the shorter side and have a slower, dull portion above the quarry wall.

 

The regular queue appeared to be a 45-60 minute wait, so I was definitely ecstatic to skip that. 10-15 minutes later, I was boarding the back seat. Let me say that Iron Rattler's trains are a thing of beauty. The rattler head on the front of the train looks fantastic and the tail on the back of the train is a very nice touch. The restraints are also more comfortable than your standard RMC restraints. The latter are still comfortable, but I preferred the contouring of the lapbar and less restrictive shin guard.

 

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Iron Rattler's sexy trains.

All the RMCs I've been on have had spectacular drops, but I wasn't prepared for what Iron Rattler would throw at me. The train slowed to a crawl as it crested the lift and then, it happened, the best drop I've ever experienced on a coaster. I was completely ejected from my seat and then forced left with the train as the track veered left. The epic air continues the whole way down and then you're forced right as the track yet again changes direction. It happens all so fast and left me wondering what just happened, but I knew I had experienced the best and most extreme first drop of the 400+ coasters I have been on.

 

The train shoots back up the quarry ejecting everyone from the train before going through a 90 degree overbank, which somehow gives some nice sideways air. The speed picks right back up with a twisted dive down the quarry and then you rocket into the zero-G roll. Rather than the graceful and slow zero-G rolls on most coasters with lap bars, this one instead hauls through it and throws you about like a ragdoll. The exit from the zero-G roll also gave a surprise pop of air in the back.

 

Now this "slow" section from the POVs did feel noticeably slower than the rest of the coaster, but the intensity never let up. There are two small airtime hills with great ejector air and two banked 90 degree turns that also somehow provide airtime. That seems like a recurring theme with Iron Rattler. Hills that look like they have no business providing air somehow provide airtime.

 

Afterwards comes the ride's well-known quarry drop. It's a very steep and tall drop that regains all of the ride's speed and abruptly launched me into orbit. The only drop I can think of that provides airtime this intense this late in a coaster is El Toro's famous Rolling Thunder hill. The pitch black tunnel through the quarry is a rush and the exit onto the brake run provides another crazy moment of ejector air mixed with some laterals.

 

I knew I had just ridden a truly amazing coaster. At this point, it was definitely top 5 but probably a notch below Fury 325. I immediately got back in line, this time waiting for the front since I had to burn a half hour waiting for my reservation on the log flume. Like my back seat ride, I received another fast and furious ride with insane ejector air on every hill, even if it was severely banked and looked like it couldn't possibly give air. My ride in front was outstanding, but the back was the only place to ride Iron Rattler because of that first drop. 10 out of 10

 

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I saw God on this drop. I was in heaven and the airtime was so intense, it could have very well sent me to heaven.

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Usually these zero-G rolls are graceful. Iron Rattler's whips you through it all while still providing crazy airtime.

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In POVs this section looked slow. It was slower, but still had bonkers airtime.

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Then there's this drop. Think of El Toro's Rolling Thunder hill with a better setting.

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Even the hill into the brake run is totally out-of-control like the rest of the coaster.

Because of how quickly the park dispatched trains on Iron Rattler (usually they sent the trains out before the last one hit the brakes), I still had a few minutes to kill before riding the flume. Thankfully there was an intriguing looking Arrow mine train next door with absolutely no wait. Every coaster enthusiast knows that anything Alan Schilke touches turns to gold (unless it's Hell Cat at Clementon since that ride exists in hell), so I was intrigued to see how awesome he could make a mine train that hugged the quarry wall.

 

I grabbed the back seat for my ride. The first lift went above the quarry wall and was immediately followed by a massive drop for a mine train coaster. We know Alan Schilke pushes the envelope on his coaster layouts and he appears to have done the same on what would otherwise have been a basic mine train. The following hill gave a surprising pop of air. After a quick turn, a second lift brought me back above the quarry wall. The second half had another pretty substantial drop, but focused more on turns.

 

The layout was definitely more ambitious that your average mine train, but it still succumbed to the rough transitions of most Arrow coasters. I'm just glad a light bulb went off before they built Tennessee Tornado the following year. 6.5 out of 10

 

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This seems like a good way to kill a few minutes.

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Our good friend Alan Schilke designed this mine train and it shows through the ambitious layout.

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It even has some airtime!

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Gully Washer had a 1 hour wait with the Q-bot. I can't imagine what the regular queue must have been like.

Now dry from ZDT's water coaster and SeaWorld, I was eager to hop on Bugs' White Water Rapids the park's log flume to cool off. But this was no ordinary log flume, it was a super flume. The queue actually looked incredibly well themed for a Six Flags, but I didn't spend anytime in the queue. Instead I went right through the exit thanks to my good friend the Q-bot.

 

Outside of the fact the boats were identical to Splash Mountain and Daredevil Falls, I didn't know anything else about the flume. While the ride itself didn't have much in terms of theming, the layout was still pretty solid. The first drop was really messed up and unlike anything I've ever seen on a flume. It was a double down with a tiny hump afterwards like the one on Dudley Do Right. I've been on flumes that do one or the other, but never flumes that combine both into one segment. I felt like I was coasting over waves. The section to the main drop was elevated for the most part and the final drop didn't disappoint. It was reasonably tall and gave a surprising pop of air. The resulting splash provided the perfect amount of wetness as well.

 

It's going to be overshadowed in a Six Flags park, but the flume is one of the park's stronger rides. The drops were fantastic, but it's not quite a perfect ride since it squandered an opportunity to be themed better and truly stand out. 9 out of 10

 

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The ride's station is really well done and blends in well with a little medieval area.

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Right this way to the totally awesome but WTF first drop.

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The final plunge is more straightforward, but it gives a nice pop of air.

I had planned to hit Superman next, but my Q-bot said Superman was down. So I reserved the other DC Superhero. I had a few minutes to kill while waiting for my Batman reservation (still weird that the Batman clone isn't called Batman and the free fly isn't called Joker, but anyway) so this was the perfect time to be a credit whore and wait for the Kiddie Koaster. A rare Vekoma kiddie coaster, this ride was shamefully my longest wait of the day at 15-20 minutes. By the time I realized the wait was longer than I had anticipated, I was committed and finished the deed. The coaster had great placement over some water and was glass smooth, but that's about all the compliments I can give it. 2 out of 10

 

I also noted during my wait that Superman was in fact open despite what the Q-bot said. This was a recurring theme over the next two days where the Q-bot never listed a ride as re-opened after it went down temporarily. I also learned from the op at the Kiddie Koaster that Superman was closing at 8:30 due to the nightly fireworks show. I'm glad I heard that since I only had an hour to get on it.

 

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Shamefully my longest wait of the day. Though it did let me realize my Q-bot lied about Superman being closed and I learned it would close 1.5 hours early.

As tempting as it was to immediately run to Superman, I figured I shouldn't waste my reservation. Batman was noteworthy since it was the first free spin...I have encountered that was open in my first visit to the park. After having my Q-bot scanned, my Q-bot died. I had always wondered what would happen if that unlikely scenario occurred and of course it would happen on a day where I was extremely limited on time. I figured I would have to go back to the Flash Pass building on the other side of the park to get a new one, but when I asked the op checking the Flash Passes what I should do, he said to give him the Q-bot, go ride Batman, and an employee would be waiting for me in the gift shop to give me a replacement. Really it was that easy? Cool.

 

Batman was my third free spin and it absolutely blew me away. I know they're often maligned, but I really do like the two Jokers that I've been on at SFNE and SFGAdv. Yes those ones only give 2-3 flips, but the rocking combined with that layout still gives a chaotic and intense ride. So I was shocked when Batman gave me 6 flips and constantly rocked the whole way, which took my breath away. Now this is how a free fly should be run. 9 out of 10

 

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Where's the B&M invert?

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Batman eats all the other free fly coasters for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

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I got 6 flips on this thing!

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I didn't get to ride Batman at night, but it sure did look nice.

After I got off the ride and made my way to the gift shop, I was pleasantly greeted by an employee. That was quick and painless. I'm glad I didn't lose any time other than the 10 minutes I could have reserved something while riding Batman. But the employee went above and beyond also giving me an exit pass. I was tempted to use it on Superman, but since that only had a 6-7 minute wait with the Q-bot, I picked Iron Rattler without thinking twice. Now that's fantastic customer service! I didn't lose anytime and the park went above and beyond to fix the situation.

 

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A+ customer service! I wasn't expecting a bonus Flash Pass ticket after they replaced my Q-bot, but happily took it.

I quickly reserved Superman and got in line with a half hour to spare. Phew, that was a little close for comfort. I noticed they were assigning seats, but figured it was worth asking for the front. Unlike SFNE, who will scoff at that request, the grouper happily granted my request and 5 minutes later I was climbing the quarry wall. The first drop was outstanding. It didn't have any airtime, but the visual of diving off the quarry combined with the drop's snappiness were quite memorable. The following vertical loop was simply massive and surprisingly forceful. That was followed by a weird elevated helix above the quarry wall. This helix was slow, but the large dive back towards the ground was basically like experiencing the first drop again which was fine by me.

 

The following zero-G roll was the ride's best inversion. Snappy like the zero-G rolls on the inverts, Superman really hauls through this inversion. It's then followed by a surprisingly smooth yet snappy cobra roll. If an element on a B&M is going to be rough, I've found it's most likely a cobra roll (unless it's a stand-up, then everything is rough). The MCBR barely took away any of the ride's speed and the next two corkscrews were very snappy as well.

 

I know there are quite a few people who deem this the best floorless coaster out there and I too will jump on that bandwagon. The interaction with the quarry on the two huge drops are unique and really make this ride stand-out. Then the inversions were your pretty typical B&M fare, but they were snappier than on the other floorless coasters. I immediately got back in line for a ride in the back. I do prefer the front, but the drops were definitely cool to experience in the back by comparison. 9 out of 10

 

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I drank the Kool-Aid; Superman is my new favorite floorless.

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The ride's interaction with the quarry is what really makes the ride stand out.

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That and the snappy inversions.

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B&M's signature interlocking corkscrews.

As sunset was approaching, I still had 3 coasters to hit and was running out of time since I wanted to end my night on Iron Rattler. Because of this, I had to start cutting out a few rides. The main casualty was the SkyScreamer. Compared to SFNE's and the one I'd ride the next day at SFOT, this one was a dwarf, but the placement adjacent to the quarry wall definitely looked interesting. It also didn't help that it was closing at 8:30 like Superman and I could no longer reserve it anyway.

 

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The ride's location next to the quarry looked interesting.

Poltergeist was next. The ride's station was simple, but it still managed to give me the chills since I naturally kept thinking of the classic movie with the same name. Usually I prefer the front on these launched coasters, but in the interest of time I settled with the back row. I've been on the two Flight of Fears and Joker's Jinx. Flight of Fear has a faster launch and is indoors, but has a killer MCBR that brings the train to a halt. Joker's Jinx has no MCBR but the launch is noticeably weaker.

 

Poltergeist was the best of both worlds. It had a launch as intense as Flight of Fear yet lacked the MCBR like Joker's Jinx. This resulted in a totally out-of-control ride. The first half had the three forceful inversions, but it was the second half that really amazed me. With the full speed launch and no brakes, we were flying through each twist and turn. Then the final corkscrew was one of the snappiest I've ever experienced. I would have loved to ride it again since it was superior to the other 3 spaghetti bowls, but I resisted the urge in the name of Iron Rattler. 9 out of 10

 

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Both a nerd shot and overview shot, all rolled into one.

As night approached, the lights went on across the park and I have to say, the park looks even better at night. The midways were full of life. I thought the Boardwalk area looked the best at night since it's filled with a lot of newer rides with fantastic lighting packages.

 

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Not sure if they look better than Story Land's spinner, but Hustler did look great. Love the theme!

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Boardwalk was the best looking area at night. It was full of life.

As I entered the boardwalk, I saw something more tempting than a coaster, Air Conditioning the Ride, aka Scooby Doo Ghostblaster. A one minute wait with the Flash Pass? Sign me up! This is one of those attractions that didn't feel like it belonged at a Six Flags park and made Fiesta Texas stand out. The theming wasn't too crazy, but the small touches such as the Scooby Doo theme song and Mystery Machine ride vehicles were appreciated by a Scooby Doo fan such as myself.

 

The ride itself was cool. It was probably 60 degrees inside that building. The targets were just simple 2D figures, but the ride was pretty darn long and all the targets reacted after being shot. Either I was having a good day or the targets were easier to hit on this one than the other Sally dark rides. Either way, this is a ride that should be hit on a visit to Fiesta Texas. I actually may have preferred this simpler shooter because of the practical sets over the higher-tech Justice League ride since I actually knew what I was shooting at a given scene. 9 out of 10

 

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Scooby Doo and not Justice League or Looney Tunes? This is so unlike Six Flags but a breath of fresh air.

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The targets were pretty basic, but the AC was fantastic and the ride was fun.

Up next was the spinner, Pandemonium. I'm a fan of SFNE's Pandemonium so I was looking forward to trying a different layout. Since SFNE's was shoehorned into a compact area, I thought it was a unique layout but it was actually the same as Fiesta Texas's version. That seems more like a Six Flags move. Fiesta Texas did have a moving station which I was envious of since SFNE's only loads one at a time and often stacks cars on the brake run.

 

While the layout was the same as SFNE's, I got a ride crazier than any of the 50 or so I've gotten on SFNE's version over the years. I sat next to a larger gentleman and was across from his two young girls. My eyes lit up when I saw this and after the first drop, we were non-stop spinning the whole way through. I have never gotten a car that unbalanced before. 8 out of 10

 

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There's the spinner hiding in the background.

Since I missed out on SkyScreamer, I wanted to hop on Scream real quick to get some breathtaking views of the park and quarry. The station and area around the ride was themed to a drive-in movie theater, which makes absolutely no sense; however, it looked great so I didn't mind at all. I actually had to wait another 10 minutes after scanning my Flash Pass since VR was slowing the loading. I still have yet to try VR on a drop tower, but I find it hard to believe it could beat a view from 200ft up, especially in a park as photogenic as Fiesta Texas. I was also deathly afraid of the device overheating again like it did on Superman at SFNE last year.

 

All the Larson/ARM towers I rode this summer have ruined S&S towers for me. Scream had solid launch and good floater air at the top. Then it ascended to the top since it was a combo tower. The views from the top were as great as I anticipated, especially in the evening. I wished I had timed the ride such that I could have been up there during sunset, but that thought was interrupted by the drop. While sudden, it lacked the punch of the other drop towers I've been on. 7 out of 10

 

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Scream's drive-in station was random, but it looked great so I didn't care one bit.

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I still haven't used VR after having it freeze on me and overheat at SFNE last year on Superman.

I had one last coaster to hit and that was my second Batman clone of the day in Goliath. I am still baffled by the name. Why one of the park's shorter coasters is called Goliath baffles me but we know how much Six Flags loves the name. I also found it funny that I rode the only two Batman clones in the United States that aren't called Batman on the same day. Despite not being called Batman the Ride, the queue was just as long. It was an endless array of switchbacks until reaching the station.

 

Like I did earlier in the day, I picked the back for timing purposes. I won't go into the layout since we've all been on or seen these Batman clones, but it was the standard forceful ride from start to finish. I add the last bit since the ride had the leg-numbing Gs in the second half that SeaWorld's Great White was missing for some reason. 9 out of 10

 

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Two non-Batman Batman clones in the same day is an odd feat.

I had a half hour left and it was time to finish with Iron Rattler. I had it queued up on my Q-bot as well as that Flash Pass ticket from earlier in the day. On my way over, I was able to catch parts of the fireworks show. The fireworks display looked quite good and on par with the ones I saw at Dollywood the weekend prior. I wasn't by the rock quarry though, so I didn't get to see any of the projection mapping in play. If I had a full day, I would have definitely checked the show out, but I couldn't pass up any of the coasters.

 

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I missed out on the projections on the quarry wall, but the fireworks display was impressive.

Earlier in the day, Iron Rattler gave fantastic rides and slotted in as my number 2 steel coaster. Iron Rattler apparently didn't like that and was determined to supplant Fury for the top spot on my rankings. And it did just that with my night rides in the back seat. The layout was pitch black. That combined with the setting on the quarry made for a truly spectacular ride. The first drop was even crazier at night since I couldn't see when the course adjustments were coming and the rest of the ride felt even more intense with the sun gone for the day.

 

After my first ride with the Q-bot, I still had 2 minutes before my reservation so I whipped out my Flash Pass ticket to get back on. Another breathtaking ride! Sorry Fury, you're number two now. The ejector air on every drop and the two epic drops (first and quarry) made Iron Rattler stand out more in my opinion. After my second night ride, I checked my phone and it was 9:56. I scampered down the exit ramp and tried to get one final ride, but they closed the queue. Drat.

 

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Iron Rattler at night knocked Fury from the top spot. You could barely see any of the ride.

I was tempted to purchase a shirt of my new favorite coaster, but I decided to see if the other coaster nearby (Road Runner Express) had a closed off queue as well since it was technically still 9:59. Sure enough, Road Runner Express was still loading the last train of the night. I boarded the third row and received a better ride. The element of darkness definitely helped, but the atypical pop of air was stronger in the front of the train. When we returned to the station, the park was officially closed.

 

I had an amazing half day (actually less than that) at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. The park looks and feels different than your standard Six Flags. It has lightning fast operations (so I'm confident they'll do all they can with Wonder Woman next year), beautiful midways, and great customer service to go with the standard thrill rides found at the other Six Flags parks (except Great Escape). Of the parks I visited that weekend in Texas, Fiesta Texas was without a doubt my favorite. It's definitely my favorite Six Flags park and one of the best parks I've visited. The park does all the little things right and having Iron Rattler doesn't hurt either.

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Wow -- surprised to hear IR supplanted Fury on your list! I was hoping to get down to Texas earlier this year, but it didn't end up materializing. With the news of Wonder Woman coming next season, and your rave reviews of the park in general, I'm definitely looking forward to adding it to my 2018 schedule!

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Awesome report! Gives me flashbacks to the TPR Texas trip with the Sea World + SFFT combo.

 

I'm seriously considering a quick trip to SFFT for Iron Rattler... did you stay at a hotel near the park that you recommend?

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Wow -- surprised to hear IR supplanted Fury on your list! I was hoping to get down to Texas earlier this year, but it didn't end up materializing. With the news of Wonder Woman coming next season, and your rave reviews of the park in general, I'm definitely looking forward to adding it to my 2018 schedule!

 

I was shocked Iron Rattler passed Fury as well. The biggest reason I loved Fury was the first drop. Iron Rattler one upped Fury there and had a better setting.

 

All the parks I visited in Texas were really nice so I'd definitely recommend a trip there if you can make it.

 

Awesome report! Gives me flashbacks to the TPR Texas trip with the Sea World + SFFT combo.

 

I'm seriously considering a quick trip to SFFT for Iron Rattler... did you stay at a hotel near the park that you recommend?

 

I stayed at a Hilton in Live Oak about 20 min away that was super nice for about $90. It was only $10 more than the local Motel 6 so I splurged. I think it was near a convention hall which is why I got it for so cheap on a Saturday night.

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Both the Six Flags parks can definitely be done in a weekend as well. Next time I think I'd rather spend more time at Fiesta Texas rather than Over Texas, but for first timers I think Over Texas takes longer to get through since they have more coasters and it's a more spread out park.

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I'm finally caught up on this thread again, great reports! I really need to make this Texas trip happen (though we'll be spending a full day at SeaWorld because... you know)

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I think a full day at SeaWorld is the way to go. I figured a little time at SeaWorld was better than skipping it entirely.

 

Thought with Brit's love of Shamu, I know skipping Fiesta Texas is more likely to happen.

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